Turkish troops evacuate military outpost near strategic Syrian highway
Turkish troops in Syria began evacuating a military outpost on Wednesday just south of the strategic M-4 highway which connects the cities of Aleppo and Latakia, in accordance with previous Russian-Turkish agreements.
The strategic highway passes through rebel-held Idlib province and has been subject to complicated negotiations between Russia and Turkey.
The withdrawal took place as fighters from the hardline Islamist Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group reportedly killed 11 Syrian regime troops in attacks.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that Turkish troops began removing cement blocks from the Qastoun outpost in the Sahl al-Ghab area of northern Hama province, preparing to withdraw north of the M-4 highway to rebel-held Idlib province.
The outpost is only a few kilometres away from regime positions.
Turkey has backed opposition forces in the Syrian conflict which broke out in 2011, when the Assad regime brutally suppressed peaceful protests.
However, under agreements reached with the regime’s allies Russia and Iran, it maintains a number of military observation outposts in and around opposition-held areas of Syria.